Here’s How to Get Prospects Into Your Showhomes Faster
“We need more showhome traffic!"
It's one of the most common things you'll hear from any home builder. And it makes sense. Showhome traffic has been, historically, the major source of clientele for the past 50+ years. But over the last five years, things have changed.
We're seeing a shift in consumer behaviour where home buyers aren't coming into the showhomes until they're almost ready to buy. They're doing the majority of their home buying process online - finding answers to their questions, researching communities, and narrowing down the style and model of home they want - BEFORE speaking with a salesperson.
So how do you remain competitive? That's what we're covering in this article.
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- what role analytics play in showhome traffic numbers
- how a content strategy can give you a huge boost
- why marketing automation is so important
Now, when someone is looking to buy a home, they don't pick up the phone and call. They power up the laptop and start researching. Mortgage information, down payment options, builder reviews, quick possession homes versus brand new builds, resale versus new - the list goes on.
And this is where a lot of today's builders are making a serious mistake. They are continuing to reach for the "low-hanging fruit" - those people who are ready to buy right now. The problem is, that's what every other builder is doing too.
And in doing so, they're missing out on a much wider scope of people who are shopping for a home. But if you can reach those people earlier, when they're still doing their research, you can steer them into your showhome earlier, thus increasing your showhome traffic.
So how do you get there?
It all starts online.
Sales Aren't The Only Thing You Need to Be Focused On
As mentioned, you need to be online. When shoppers are at the beginning of their buyer's journey, they're in what's called the Awareness stage. This is basically their information gathering stage. So trying to sell to them at this point is going to have a negative effect. Remember, people love to buy but they hate to be sold to.
How do you reach those people who just aren't ready to hear from a salesperson yet? And trust us, there are A LOT of them. The largest group of people who are going to be buying homes in the next five to ten years are millennials. And they want to put off talking to anyone in sales as long as they possibly can.
By providing relevant and informative content, you become a resource to them, and if you're good at it, a trusted one. This takes time, but it works. This is how you reach those people.
Now, if you want to stay relevant to them, you HAVE TO track and measure what's working, and what isn't. For example, if you put out a blog post about the latest developments in the real estate market in your city and you notice it has 30 shares on social and a ton of positive engagement, that's a good thing. So you know your target is interested in this type of content.
By tracking and measuring what you're doing, you can start to build a timeline for your prospects. This is key when you want to see what your current sales cycle is. You need to know what your current sales cycle times are, otherwise, how do you know if you're improving them (AKA, making them shorter and getting people to your showhomes faster)?
And that's the goal.
Without a proper analytic system in place, you can't track anything. And that means you're missing out on a lot of potential traffic.
Keeping Up With Your Content
With this goal in mind, you can continue to produce content relevant to their interests. As they move into the Consideration stage, they're more likely to be open to reading and receiving content more particular to your company. Not sales-type content, but something like specific options you, as a home builder, can offer. Using the example of the post about the market, you could talk about which areas of the city you build in that are doing well.
What you want to do here is create content that will help nudge these prospects further along their home buyer's journey, without coming across as a pushy salesperson. You want to shorten your sales cycle by providing the next steps they should be taking, in the form of relevant content, in advance. <- That's really important, by the way. If you wait too long, you'll miss your opportunity.
Another benefit of having solid content is your sales reps can use it to help answer questions for the leads they are in contact with. A prospect who doesn't totally understand how a quick possession works would be happy to see an email from their rep with a link to an article you've written about the details of a quick possession home. This builds more trust on a deeper level between the rep and the prospect, and really reinforces your Sales team as a group of helpful consultants and not a bunch of high-pressure salespeople.
If you don't have a solid content marketing strategy, you won't be considered a resource. That means all those people doing their research aren't thinking of your company. People are searching for this information online anyways, so shouldn't they be getting it from you?
Let Marketing Automation Help
Another way to help shorten up your sales cycle is with marketing automation. By having workflow processes already set up to bump people from stage to stage, you save time, money, and ensure leads aren't slipping through the cracks because they triggered a key action on a weekend when you don't have staff online.
For example, you can set up an automatic email sequence for when a visitor has met a certain lead score that will send them a friendly message letting them know about this awesome free guide you have.
What you need to do is understand what your prospects are going through - their thought processes - and help them to do it faster and easier.
Not only that, but you can use marketing automation to help your sales team. By having repetitive tasks on auto-pilot, they look like a hero to the lead without having to do any extra work. The faster they can work with a lead, the better.
If you aren't using marketing automation, you aren't giving any of your leads those gentle nudges, moving them further through the buyer's journey and getting them to where they need to be to go out and start visiting showhomes.
How Does This Relate to an Increase in My Showhome Traffic?
That is a great question. As discussed earlier, it all starts online. Once you start becoming a recognized authority/information source for new home buyers, they will continue to turn to your company to help answer their questions.
Once you've provided them enough information, and if your tracking which stage they are in their buyer's journey, you can encourage them to reach out to a rep, set an appointment with an online concierge, or to come out and visit a showhome.
By using the ideas we've mentioned in this post as a part of your inbound marketing strategy, you're reaching out to your target market much earlier in the process. You're establishing a rapport with them, and building a relationship. You create habits and thought patterns with these people. And once that pattern is clearly established, your showhomes will be the ones they first visit once they hit that last stage - the Decision stage.
In short, the whole goal of your marketing program comes down to helping your prospects and leads reach the Decision stage as soon as possible. Because until they get there, your sales reps won't see them in a showhome.
It all boils down to one thing: are you where your prospects are? If you aren't online, then the answer to that questions is no. Which is a scary thought.
With the shift in consumer behaviour, people no longer want to work with a salesperson right from the start. They want to do their own research and find their own answers. So present those answers to them. Become their trusted source for all things home building. It will make for a much easier time for all involved. In saying that, you need to make sure you're looking at the behaviour patterns of your prospects and leads. What are they reading online? Which content is resonating with them? Track and measure that information and use it.
One of the strongest ways to get in front of your target market is with your content marketing, which is a key component to any good inbound marketing strategy. Solid content marketing allows you to build that trust and rapport with your prospects while avoiding the "I'm-being-sold-to" feeling that buyers can't stand.
Marketing automation processes should also play a key role, whether for the marketing or sales departments. Automate content emails as a friendly nudge further into your sales funnel and automate tasks and reminders for your sales staff so no lead feels forgotten.
By hitting those researchers early in their buyer's journey, your company becomes their trusted source and when they hit the all-important decision stage, it's your showhome they're going to walk into first.